Techspectations 2020 | Why mobile ads are more than what you see

techspectations panel
(Clockwise from top left) Kiruba Shanker, Anvesha Poswalia, Navin Madhavan, Vishal Rupani and Rishi Varma.

If you are reading this on a mobile phone, you are likely to look at the next advertisement on your tiny screen way different from how you used to do. Because there's a lot more to a mobile ad than meets the eye.

A panel discussion on mobile advertisement, held as part of the virtual digital summit Techspectations 2020, organised by Manorama Online, on Saturday offered the delegates a lot of intriguing insights about the ever-evolving ad world.

The panel comprising young advertisers and marketeers deliberated on the broader theme – “How brands should approach mobiles and mobile advertising.”

A key point of discussion was the dilemma advertisers and brands face when it comes to personalisation of ads amid the global concerns over protection of private data.

The new-age advertisers agreed old methods of generic print and television campaigns will not lure the consumers in the mobile age. Hence, they go for personalised ads that target a consumer's needs and interests.

“It's indeed a problem that there's a thin line between what a customer is comfortable with and what's not. If you make data sharing valuable to customers, they'll share it,” Anvesha Poswalia, Digital Marketing Lead, L'Oréal, said.

She said it's important to ensure that the advertisement does not sound creepy while building personalisation.

An advertisement has to be either entertaining or informing or engaging, according to her.

Poswalia said building discoverability and personalisation are the two key concepts needed for a good mobile advertisement.

“People want to find out what's the best around them. They also look for proximity and convenience. It's not just about finding products but also about consumers getting answers to their questions,” she said, elaborating what she meant by building discoverability.

She also highlighted the importance of going hyperlocal with mobile advertisements. Now you know, why ads in your mother tongue keep coming onto your screen.

Poswalia illustrated how her company, a personal care products major, used WhatsApp for business during the lockdown days. The company used chatbots that functioned as a professional hair diagnosing tool when salons were shut. The AI-powered system helped consumers find personalised solutions for their hair troubles. She also mentioned the system used to help consumers try hair colours virtually.

Rishi Varma, Director - Product Management (Media), Akamai Technologies, said mobile as an advertising medium is very different from mass media like television, because it offers the possibility of one-on-one interaction.

He said mobile helps brands to run highly targetted ads suiting a consumer's personal details like age and location.

He identified connectivity as a major issue faced by mobile advertisers. “We need to ensure that the ads adapt to the network conditions of a user,” he said.

He said with the onset of 5G connectivity, the advertising scenario will see huge changes.

On people's aversion to ads, he said, “The moment an ad becomes relevant, it becomes tolerable.”

Navin Madhavan, VP & GM - Growth Marketing Platforms, InMobi, said the mobile data traffic in India will grow 5-fold from 2017 to 2022.

“It has become the new primary screen for Indians,” he said. He also pointed out the interesting fact that many Indians are accessing internet for the first time time through mobiles.

“Companies have to think about how to make their story best suitable for mobiles,” he said. He cited the use of vertical images and videos for ad campaigns as an example of adapting to the changing consumer habits. He said 'vertical first' is the new mantra in mobile ad circles.

Madhavan highlighted the need to drive innovation by utilising smartphone features. “Harnessing the power of mobile is very important for brands to deliver their messages,” he said.

He cited a recent campaign by Cadbury as an example of localised content and another one by Swiggy to illustrate the use of smartphone technology.

“Don't think about an ad just as an ad, think about it as content and make it personal,” he said.

Echoing Poswalia's views on personalised ads, he said “when you personalise ads, ensure that it's adding some value to the user's life.”

“Don't get make it all about promoting your product, get feedback once in a while,” he said.

Vishal Rupani, Advisor, TripperWifi, mentioned the changes that occurred in the mobile ad scenarios in the past five years. He said way back in 2015, he came across a simple truth that 'users hate mobile banners'.

“You cannot really make a great a story by recreating your tv/newspaper content,” he said.

Detailing the use of technology in mobile ads, he listed out how big companies like Adidas, Lenovo and Uber used sensors on phones to market their products.

Kiruba Shanker moderated the session on the second day of the two-day digital summit.

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